Organic farming has long held great promise for sustainability. But critics have argued that organic farming takes up too much land compared to agriculture that uses chemicals and genetically modified seeds. Organic farming produces as much as a quarter less food than traditional agriculture.
Now defenders of organic farming are promoting its side benefits: greater biodiversity – like bees and birds – and less greenhouse gas emissions.
“If you compare maize production in organic versus non-organic fields, the organic fields might show a reduced yield. But farmers are producing other things,” Verena Seufert, assistant professor at VU University Amsterdam’s Institute for Environmental Studies, told the Financial Times. “That is food as well.”
Such side benefits are one reason organic farming has slowly but surely become more popular, said Seufert and others.
The global organic food market is worth around $97 billion, (€86.26 billion/CHF97.8 billion) Ecovia Intelligence recently reported.
Seufert and others didn’t think organic farming would become dominant anytime soon.
Currently 11 countries devote at least 10 percent of their agricultural land to organic farming, including Austria, Czech Republic, Finland and Italy, according to the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, or FiBL.
But the experts noted that organic farming is becoming increasingly popular. In 2006, Walmart began offering organic food in its massive network of stores. Organic produce is also becoming increasingly popular in Latin America, too, they added.